Jan 2, 2024 - News

The biggest Twin Cities stories to watch in 2024

Illustration of NYE glasses, but the lenses are Axios logos.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

It's a good thing we have an extra day in 2024 because it's going to be a big year in the Twin Cities.

Here are some of the stories we're watching:

Election 2024

It's a presidential election year and Minnesota's 10 electoral votes are on the table. But the hottest races on state ballots will likely be in a handful of competitive House districts that will determine whether the DFL trifecta continues in 2025.

Those elections will likely loom over the upcoming legislative session, as Democrats debate proposed constitutional amendments, weigh new policy and spending requests, and make tweaks to laws passed last session.

  • Threat level: State budget officials have warned that spending the current surplus in the months ahead could lead to a deficit down the line.

Rollout of legal marijuana

While cannabis has been legal since August, the year ahead will be crucial for the launch of Minnesota's commercial marijuana market. State officials are already at work crafting rules and business licenses, with a goal of dispensaries opening doors in early 2025.

  • Yes, but: Gov. Tim Walz still hasn't hired a director to oversee the Office of Cannabis Management (his first pick fell through) and a recent departure means he also needs to find a top regulator for medical cannabis.

Minneapolis policing

The work of enacting reforms to the Minneapolis Police Department— under court oversight — really begins in 2024.

  • What's next: By March, the city should hire an independent monitor to oversee the department's compliance with a settlement in state court meant to uproot racially discriminatory policing practices.

A similar agreement with federal officials — known as a "consent decree" — could be coming this year, too.

Rent control

Some members of the new-look St. Paul City Council will likely attempt to undo changes that loosened the city's rent control ordinance.

  • In Minneapolis, the left-wing coalition that now controls the council has also promised to revive the issue, though Mayor Jacob Frey's opposition to most rent control proposals remains a big hurdle.

School 'fiscal cliff'

Many Minnesota public schools are already bracing for next fall when a $1.3 billion pot of federal COVID relief money expires. Schools with more low-income students will feel this loss more acutely — they received more of this funding to begin with, using it to cover everything from teacher pay to HVAC repairs.

  • All of this is happening as some of Minnesota's biggest districts, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Anoka-Hennepin, are hashing out contracts with teachers unions — many of whom say more spending is vital for their school systems.

Rideshare changes

Policymakers could make changes to how Uber and Lyft drivers are compensated. While the prospects for a new state law remain uncertain, there's a decent chance Minneapolis enacts an ordinance giving drivers something like a minimum wage.

  • Flashback: In 2023, Uber and Lyft balked at broader packages of regulations that passed the state legislature and the Minneapolis city council. Both proposals effectively died after the companies threatened to pull out of the respective markets.
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